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The United Faculty of Florida

defended the Due Process rights, and Academic Freedom & Tenure rights of

USF Professor Sami Al-Arian

On the Termination of a Controversial Professor

Sami Al-Arian was hired by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida, Tampa, in 1986. During his free time, he was very active in, and very outspoken on, a number of pro-Palestinian and Islamic issues. While USF's initial reaction was to join with one of his organizations to engage in scholarly work on Middle Eastern affairs, his relationship with the USF Administration deteriorated after USF received criticism about his public life, as well as allegations about his off-campus activities.

On December 19, 2001, President Judy Genshaft announced Professor Al-Arian's imminent termination. Since this termination involved Professor Al-Arian's due process and academic freedom and tenure rights, the UFF quickly became involved. The UFF defends the contract by which professors at USF are hired, and any violation of the contract threatens the entire faculty at USF. During 2002, and into 2003, UFF assisted Al-Arian in his confrontation with the USF Board of Trustees.

On Feb. 20, 2003, Al-Arian was indicted by a federal grand jury for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act; on Feb. 26, President Genshaft sent Al-Arian the third, and apparently final, Letter of Termination. Al-Arian is fighting the dismissal, but (by his choice) outside of the contract, thus relegating UFF, in his lawyer's words, ``out of the loop.''

Thus the current position of UFF is:

  • UFF has never taken any position on Al-Arian's public activities: his politics are his business. UFF's position on the numerous allegations about his less-public life is that an accusation is not in itself proof.
  • UFF assisted him in his confrontation with the Board of Trustees because the confrontation threatened the contract, which the union defends, and because he asked, and the union will (in fact, must) assist faculty who ask for help in such a confrontation with the USF Administration. Now that Al-Arian no longer asks, UFF is no longer directly involved. UFF is, however, watching the situation very carefully.
  • UFF is not, and never has been, involved in the criminal proceedings. UFF's only involvement in the case was in Al-Arian's confrontation with the Board of Trustees. However, like all concerned Americans, we are watching that situation very carefully, too.
Of course, the situation could change again.

Eternal vigilance
is the price
of liberty
-- Wendell Phillips

While UFF was directly involved in Al-Arian's confrontation with the Board of Trustees, UFF maintained this collection of pages so that members of the union, and members of the public, could follow the course of events. However, maintenance of this site required substantial resources. In Spring, 2003, the USF Administration unlawfully --- in violation of the contract --- stripped UFF of one of the necessary resources for the site. This resource, a set of course releases for faculty in labor-intensive UFF positions, was also necessary for the operation of the union itself, and this act was one of several directed towards busting the union. Out of a need to prioritize tasks, and as this site became a lower priority as of March 28, 2003 (the legal deadline for Al-Arian using the contract to appeal his dismissal), this site was no longer maintained at the same level as of that date.

UFF is keeping these pages on-line, and making occasional updates, for scholars, students, journalists, and visitors interested in the history of the case. These pages served two purposes.

  • Here we posted documents generated by the UFF or its friends, to be available to all visitors.
  • Here we posted a number of links so that visitors wishing to examine the controversy and form their own conclusions have access to (or at least references to) many of the primary (and other) sources.
The webmaster cannot resist noticing that this controversy has revealed an enormous indifference to the distinction between primary, secondary, tertiary, and, for all we know, tabloid sources.

The primary concerns of the United Faculty of Florida in this case are due process and academic freedom. The UFF is convinced that the unjust treatment of any university professional is a threat to all. Therefore, while the UFF membership has varying views of Professsor Al-Arian, we must, for our own safety's sake, defend his freedom of speech and his right to due process.

And this is larger than just academia. This Nation fought a Revolutionary War for, among other things, freedom of speech and the right to due process.

Out of a sense of satire (read on), we should make the following disclaimer: the facts, opinions, and organization of facts and opinions appearing on these pages are the responsibility of UFF, USF/UFF, and the webmaster, and in no way represent the knowledge or views of the USF Administration.

Here are several pages of links and references. Most of them are in the form of chronologies, with links and/or citations.